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Future Health






Caffeine and You

May 17, 2016 

Should We Embrace Caffeine?

The latest research shows that caffeine can improve mood and behavior, performance and memory, and combat Alzheimer's disease. The key is to determine the optimal amount of caffeine for you to enhance your abilities but not so much that you begin to feel negative effects such as too much excitability.

Mood/Behavior

At the proper dosage, caffeine improves feelings of pleasantness and reduces anxiety. Evidence shows that the levels of caffeine consumed by most people have largely positive effects on behavior.

Performance/Memory

Caffeine has been shown to enhance the consolidation of long-term memories in humans. In memory tests, high to moderate caffeine users recalled more words than low users, particularly at the beginning of the lists.

In one study, subjects completed tests of simple reaction time, choice reaction time, incidental verbal memory, and visuospatial reasoning, in addition to providing self-reports of usual coffee and tea intake. A trend to improved performance with higher levels of coffee consumption was observed in all tests. Similar but weaker associations were found for tea consumption, which contain less caffeine per unit.

Another study showed that individuals who habitually consumed caffeine were significantly better at both long-term memory performance and locomotor speed.

May Combat Alzheimer's Disease

In one study, mice administered the caffeine equivalent of 5 cups of coffee per day were protected from development of otherwise certain cognitive impairment and had decreased hippocampal brain activity. More research regarding this potential benefit is needed.

Be mindful of the amounts

The Yerkes-Dodson Law explains the relationship between stimulation and cognitive performance. See the bell curve below to better understand how the right amount of caffeine for you.

Dosage is important with caffeine use because overdoses can cause extreme levels of arousal. This can impair performance and may cause anxiety, jitteriness, confusion, dizziness, tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmia, nausea, and sweating.

Research suggests that we should find the dose that provides us optimal stimulation to perform at the maximum level of our abilities and avoids over-stimulation.